Early this spring I attended a briefing about the importance of dogs in the medical treatment, recovery, and quality of life of Veterans. Not having been around this much, I had no idea the integral role that animals, particularly dogs, play in the lives of Veterans, especially when it comes to keeping them independent.
So I wanted to share with you a new pilot program at the Marion VA Medical Center in Illinois that’s moving beyond the idea that dogs are only for guide purposes. The focus has shifted to their companionship and therapeutic potential. The dogs-in-residence will be trained by the non-profit This Able Veteran. As the president of the group Behesha Doan explains, she often meets soldiers who come back from combat and are disappointed with how they have changed.
“The dog does not know who that person was,” Doan said. “This dog loves who you are now.
The pilot program will begin late this summer, and will be run out of Marion’s Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (RRTP) facility, which is a 17,000 square foot center where up to 14 Veterans can stay while they receive structured residential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other disorders. Visit RRTP to find out more.